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Born and Bred: Colchester United

Started on 14 March 2017 by ScottT / First Post
Latest Reply on 31 August 2017 by De Magere / Last Post
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ScottT's avatar Group ScottT
2 yearsEdited

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January saw new faces join in an attempt to restore form and continue our push. We began the month against Cheltenham, a side who beat us 2-0 not too long ago and were still very much continuing their dream return to League Two as they looked like serious playoff contenders. The game was extremely tight, as many would expect in a game featuring two similar footballing sides and it took Brennan Dickenson, who hasn't featuring too much since the return from Drey Wright to give us the goal to break the deadlock, cutting in from the left hand side and finishing beautifully. Cheltenham would continue to threaten but Thomas Lapsile would give us a second with twenty minutes to go to ensure we would get revenge.

Another home game following against Carlisle, yet another playoff contender currently sat in 10th position in the league. The game would mark the debut of Kyle Knoyle and Joe Aribo and it would be Knoyle himself who gave us the lead from the penalty spot after Drey Wright was brought down clumsily by Luke Joyce. The Cumbrians would pose little threat in front of goal, even after Aaron Wilbraham was taken off in place of Jamie Proctor. Sean Murray would secure his 11th of the season from his central midfielder role, the next Gerrard perhaps? And that's how the game ended, a perfect start to the month.

Next up followed a difficult journey to Wales to play the overachieving Newport County. County were sat in 16th and comfortably above the relegation zone in which they were predicted to be around at the start of the season. In our previous meeting they would steal a victory as both sides finished with ten men, however the winning goalscorer Ryan Bird wasn't to start today. Newport have arguably one of the worst pitches at this level, it is virtually impossible to play 'decent football on,' to quote Plymouth manager Derek Adams.

Newport were the better side in the first half as Alex Samuel and Flo Bojaj posed a constant threat to our keeper Dean Brill. A number of efforts were well saved by the Englishman, especially when Samuel got through one on one but he spread himself well to turn it round the post. Early on in the first half full-back Mickey Demetriou would have a long range effort brush the crossbar on the way over, however in our perhaps only real attack of the game we would punish. Tarique Fosu made a darting run down the wing and was played through by Sean Murray which allowed him to come in and finish well. The full time result would end Newport County 0 Colchester United 1.

Exeter City were our next opposition a side who occupied one of the relegation places and were in horrible form coming into the game after picking up just a single point their last six games and not winning in 17 in all competitions. Now managing by Paul Dickov following the sacking of Paul Tisdale, who had managed the club for the last decade, Exeter were beaten 1-0 after a Chris Porter goal on the hour mark and weren't a challenge until the 90th minute when a number of chances for Liam McAlinden weren't taken. It meant that we had won our previous five games heading into the trip to Wycombe.

So to conclude the month was a trip to Adams Park against a Wycombe side who were also in fantastic form and also chasing the promotion places. The game was a rather boring affair beside the goals and Wanderers would get a quickfire double, first Scott Kashket would give them the lead after half an hour and would be followed up by Cardiff City loanee Rhys Healey just two minutes later. Chris Porter, who was slowly asserting himself back into the goals again scored in the 57th minute but the game fizzled out from there and our form would take a backseat for now.

Our fixtures next month are the following: Blackpool (A,) Barnet (H,) Crawley Town (H,) Accrington Stanley (A,) Hartlepool United (H) and Grimsby Town (A.)

As the transfer deadline has now passed, we will take a look at League Two and run through each side within the division, starting off with the top three sides in the division.

Mansfield Town


Town have preformed above all expectations so far this season and it's all done to manager Steve Evans who was appointed in the summer. The ex Rotherham manager has proved his doubters wrong by leading the Stags to the top of the table so far following a 12th place finish last campaign. The likes of Jean Kean, who came in on loan from Sheffield Wednesday and has kept 14 clean sheets this far making him record the highest amount of these has been key to the success.

Matt Green has also been a massive part to the jigsaw for Evans' sides as he has bagged 15 league goals so far, adding to his 16 from last seasons total. He has been linking well with Shaquille Coulthrist who was loaned in from League One side Peterborough and has been nicknamed 'Shaq Attack' by the Mansfield faithful, as the winger has totalled nine assists only bettered by Colchester winger Tarique Fosu (12.)

The strong defensive line has also benefitted Kean – the back four made up of the usual Rhys Bennett, Krystian Pearce, Kyle Howkins and Mal Benning has seen only 23 goals in the net. Bennett and Howkins, brought in by Evans at the beginning of the season, are just a few examples of some good business in the window and The Stags will most certainly be one of the favourites to go up with their current league position.

Plymouth Argyle


Argyle were certainly one of the favourites for promotion after the heartbreak of last season's playoff final loss against Wimbledon. They bought well in the summer with the signings of Arnold Garita and the loan signing of Craig Tanner from Reading and the two have contributed well, Garita has netted 13 times this season whilst his teammate has done so 11 times.

However, one of the key men for the Janners would have to be Graham Carey. Carey, who was brought in last season by Derek Adams as he played under his management at Ross County has been a creative genius behind the two strikers of Garita and the rotating partner of either Ryan Taylor, Jake Jervis or Jimmy Spencer adding to the new addition of Mallik Wilks, brought in on loan from Leeds United. He has one of the highest amount of 'key passes' in the division with 30 so far and has since been the subject of interest from League One sides Bolton and MK Dons.

Yet the contribution of the central defenders Jakub Sokolik and Sonny Bradley cannot be ignored either. The two have averaged above a 7.1 (based off data collected by ProZone) on average and have been the main reasons behind the 11 clean sheets collected this season, along with full-back Oscar Threlkeld and defensive midfielder Yann Songo'o, making up for the sub-standard keeping of Luke McCormick. With this said, I think if the performances of those players drop it will cost the side so it will be interesting to see if they can hold onto the automatic promotion place they occupy.

Accrington Stanley


Stanley have once again been the overachievers of the division so far and even fans won't believe how well the club have done thus far. The club narrowly missed out on promotion last season following an 88th minute winner from Matt Taylor for Bristol Rovers to send them up over Accrington, who hit the bar three times in a 0-0 draw to Stevenage on the last day of the season. They then went on to lose in extra-time against eventual winners Wimbledon following an Adebayo Akinfenwa goal.

Since then the club lost key men in Josh Windass and Matt Crooks to Rangers, who had pre-agreed deals to join the Scottish giants and Piero Mingoia to Cambridge United. However Billy Kee, one of last season's 'heroes' has continued to keep that tag as he has had a massive impact on the club once again. So far he has scored an impressive total of 19 league goals, which have seen Stanley become the highest goalscorers in the division so far.

Another fan-favourite from last season has been a reason for the 'Accrington miracle.' This time it's the Irishman Seamus Conneely. His versatility has been key to Stanley so far, playing in a number of positions such as right-back, central-midfield and on a few occasions center-back. He has a total of ten league assists this season and is arguably one of the best players in the division currently.

John Coleman, who is now in his second stint at the club and has been here for the last two seasons, has also looked at the youth ranks at the club and brought through the likes of Luke Moran, who has started 19 games this season to his first team. This adds to the young loanees of Juanma, Marek Rodak and Jordan Williams from Liverpool – which mixes well with the experienced heads of Kee, Terry Gornell, Mark Hughes and Scott Brown. The well worked methods of Coleman are paying off at the Wham Stadium and I wouldn't be surprised if Stanley achieved the 'impossible' and gained promotion at the end of the 2016/17 season.
nice write up - must be scary to a point, seeing Accrington signing so much young talent, but I reckon you've got what it takes to handle it!
Infra- Wish they would sign these players in real life, not bad at all :P
We continue our run through of the League Two season so far with the teams currently in the playoff places.

Wycombe Wanderers


It's been a mixed few years at Adams Park under the tenure of Gareth Ainsworth who took the reigns at the club in 2012 following his spell as a player. From finishing 22nd and just above the drop zone in the 13/14 season to losing in the playoff final to Southend United the next and another poor mid-table finish last campaign, Wanderers are a unpredictable side for certain. Ahead of the 2016/17 season we predicted the Chairboys would be on course for another mid-table finish, finishing narrowly in the top half however they have overperformed thus far.

The Grenadian central defender Aaron Pierre has been a huge asset to the side as he has continually improved on his strong ending to last season by having one of the highest successful tackle ratios in the division. Yet to miss a game, he has very much been a reliable man in the back four beside his usual partner of Anthony Stewart and the pair have worked very successfully.

Luke O'Nien has also improved on his performances from last season as he has established himself as one of the top defensive midfielders within the division, breaking up the play alongside the more creative Dominic Gape. Gape, who joined after his release from the successful Southampton academy, has recorded an impressive 82% pass completion ratio whereas O'Nien has an average above 3 tackle per game, only bettered by Liam Kelly, Alex Kenyon, Michael Woods and Thomas Lapsile in the midfield department.

The loan of extension of Cardiff City striker Rhys Healey is an interesting one after he enjoyed a good run of games in his spell and will most certainly be the source of goals at Adams Park alongside Scott Kashket and Alex Jabukiab – the three are all very capable at this level and it will be expected for them to bag more goals heading into the latter half of the season. Personally I think Wycombe have what it takes to hang on to a playoff spot and potentially regain their League One status they lost in 2012.

Colchester United


The U's were relegated to League Two last season and this saw a mass turnover of both players and staff with the likes of George Moncur and Alex Gilbey leaving and John McGreal resigning as manager. This saw the surprise appointment of Paddy McLaughlin, who has since gone on to prove his doubters, including ourselves, wrong. United were predicted to finish outside the playoff places due to the massive upheaval but with recent results especially, look like serious promotion contenders.

One of the key men for United is the winger Tarique Fosu who has terrorized defences across the league with his pace, flair and crossing ability. The Englishman has recorded an impressive total of 12 assists and 5 league goals so far this season and has worked well with the rotating frontmen Chris Porter and Bradley Fewster, seeing the duo also score plenty of goals so far this campaign with a total of 17 league goals between them.

The central pairing of Tom Eastman and Luke Prosser has also been something to behold at The Weston Homes Community Stadium. Averaging some of the best performances in the division (Eastman with a 7.2 and Prosser with a 7.3, as recorded by ProZone) the duo have been instrumental in maintaining the good run of form as of late, which has seen Colchester race back into the promotion picture after a torrid couple of months previously.

Finally, the jigsaw is completed by the Irish middle man Sean Murray who has found his level after loans to Wigan Athletic and Swindon Town failed. After being released by Watford, he made the move to United and has found form immediately under McLaughlin's management. He has 12 goals and 7 assists so far this season and will be difficult to keep hold of with his current form as League One clubs are knocking on the door. I personally believe that United are strong enough to continue their push and with the injury troubles fading they're only getting stronger.

Luton Town


Joining in January last season, Nathan Jones led Luton Town to an 11th placed finish last season and has continued his impressive management thus far. The Hatters bought well in the window with the likes of Danny Hylton joining the ranks after his promotion winning season with Oxford United last season and he is one of many signings that have impressed at Kenilworth Road.

Hylton has partnered Jack Marriot up front and the duo have been a massive success as they continue to rip up the division. Marriot has gone on to scored an impressive total of 22 league goals already and add this to the 12 scored by Hylton, beating his total scored at United last season, it makes for one of the most deadliest strike partnerships in the league.

Alongside the two is the ever present Cameron McGeehan who has steadily become a fan-favourite at the club over the years. The Northern Irishman has already scored five goals from his midfield role as well as assisting three and having one of the dribbles completed per game ratios within the division. Now starting to mature as a 21 year old, he has averaged a 7 rating (collected by ProZone) and is set for his first senior cap for his country.

Jordan Cook also enjoyed a successful January and is looking like continuing his good form after scoring five goals within the month. Since joining from Walsall in the Summer he has bagged nine goals and eight assists also from the wing and it makes for good reading for Luton fans as they are, to no surprise, one of the highest scoring oppositions in the league due to the impact he has made on the flank. With that said I personally think that Luton have what it takes to secure a playoff spot and will push it right to the wire for the automatic promotion places.

Portsmouth


By now many folk know the fall of the South-coast club Portsmouth from FA Cup winners in 2008 to plying their trade in this division just six years later after their relegation from League One in 2013. A poor first couple years looked frightening for all at Fratton Park but a sixth placed finish last season restored some parity. Although they lost to Plymouth, the club set their sights on returning to League One for this season as they aimed for a title challenge.

Although the club are currently off the pace, they are still within contention after a sudden climb in recent months. Mostly down to the performances of Eoin Doyle who has scored 16 goals this season, which makes up for one of the poorer defensive records amongst the contenders. On loan from Preston North End, he has become a clinical finisher at the club and has formed a good partnership with winger Gary Roberts as well as aiding the development of Conor Chaplin.

To further our point on the winger Roberts, he may now be heading towards his peak years at 32 but it hasn't slowed him down at all. From the wing, he has totalled 12 league goals which makes him have the highest amount of goals from this position and already beats his record of seven from the last season and his second best goalscoring season in his career, only behind the 14 scored at Accrington Stanley in 2005 when the club were in the Conference.

Portsmouth have very little standout players but this just makes them a solid side and good enough for the playoffs in my book. With the financial advantage over the other clubs in the division it has saw some good signings be made such as ex Liverpool youngster Damien Plessis be brought in on a free transfer and Hamza Choudbury head to Fratton Park on loan. It'll be interesting to see if the wait for promotion will continue under the reign of Paul Cook.
We continue our review of the clubs so far by capping off the top half of the League Two table as of 1st February 2017.

Carlisle United

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After another poor season in League Two, Carlisle heavily recruited over the summer with new manager Keith Curle, who started his first full season with the Cumbrians. The likes of Reggie Lambe and Jamie Devitt joined from Mansfield Town and Morecambe respectively and were joined by numerous loans including Macauley Gillesphey and Jamie Proctor. With this said, United were predicted to be chasing the playoffs and it's especially what they're doing.

One of the standout players at Carlisle is the on loan central defender Rob Dickie. After a good loan spell in the National League last season with Cheltenham, the club took the chance to allow him to test new waters and haven't looked back since. A versatile option too, capable as a full-back option, he has been unbeatable in the air this season and it has seen him have one of the highest headers won percentage within the division (as collected by ProZone, again.)

Another on loan individual has stepped up and this time it's the previously mentioned Jamie Proctor. Starting twenty league goals he has scored 12 and his clinicalness in front of goal has allowed him to rack up a career best already, after previous moves to Bradford City didn't work out for the ex Bolton youngster. Now back with his former club Bolton, out on loan here, it will be interesting to see where his career will lead him next.

Finally is a recent acquisition in Greg Taylor who made the move to Carlisle last week on loan from Sunderland. After making his first team debut at Kilmarnock on loan last season, he adapted well to first team football in Scotland and since has been playing for the Sunderland reserves. A loan move was arranged in order to get the young player more first team football and Curle has big plans for the full-back, he'll certainly be one to move as Carlisle look set to upset the playoff race as we approach the run in.

Cambridge United

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Now without a manager following the sacking of Shaun Derry, Cambridge are currently seeking a replacement as they have openly admitted that caretaker boss Mark Bonner is unlikely to take over at the Abbey Stadium. A winless month continued a quick plummet down the league after a fantastic start to the season, with many arguing the sacking was unfair given the freak start the club had. After a ninth place finish last season, narrowly outside the playoff places a similar season was expected.

It has very much been a team effort by United, with little standout players compared to the playoff rivals around them. The signings of Uche Ikpeazu and loanee Andreja Novakovich heavily influenced the start the team had, collecting a couple of goals between them to narrowly see off opposition. That is one of the problems that could see the continuing fall of Cambridge, following a lack of goals and many have argued that not allowing Derry to finish out the window was a poor decision made by the board.

A few defensive injuries have disrupted the back four with the usual Leon Legge being ruled out for the rest of the season with a broken leg and Bradley Halliday suffered a twisted ankle ruling him out for the month alongside Max Clark's damaged achilles tendon injury. This saw a tactical change from Derry which did not pay off, after his now previous employers were thrashed by the likes of Notts County, Blackpool and Accrington 3-0 all in the space of three games and three weeks. With this said, I expect the injuries will be too much for United and they will finish in the bottom half of the table continuing their downward spiral.

Stevenage


Joining at the end of the season, Darren Sarll's sides were predicted for a 15th place finish from ourselves and many pundits alike. Although with loan signings such as Josh McQuoid from Luton, despite a poor showing at Kenilworth Road last season, they looked like they may spring a surprise or two and It's exactly what they are currently doing in the division.

Starting with McQuoid who left Bournemouth after a second spell last season to join The Hatters on a free transfer. In his debut season he struggled and only managed three goals in 29 appearances, since his loan move to the club formerly known as Stevenage Borough (now the 'Borough' has been taken out the name since promotion from the National League in 2010,) he has managed ten goals in 23 appearances, his best goal to game ratio since his final season in his first stint at Bournemouth in the 2010/11 season.

Another impressive loan signing has been Kaylen Hinds who joined from fellow London based side, Arsenal. Coming through the ranks in 2014, he has been loaned out for the first time as he adapts to regular first team football as the Premier League side seem to be focusing on bringing through more youth talent, something unfamiliar in recent years. His first senior goal was the winner against struggling Yeovil Town in a 1-0 victory at home. Since, he has gone on to become a regular starter in the midfield.

The signing of Jobi McAnuff was perhaps regarding as strange by the fans, however the ex Reading winger has gone to impress since joining on a free in the summer. After a two year spell at Leyton Orient following his surprise release at Reading, where he featured in 35 Championship games and all 38 Premier League games the year before, the now 35 year old is winding down his career but still putting in the performances on the wing with two league goals this season. I believe that the club will remain where they are and end the season above all expectations in the top half.

Newport County

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The overachievers of the league alongside Accrington Stanley have to be the Welsh side Newport County. Still playing their games at Rodney Parade and under the watchful eye of Graham Westley, County looked towards parent club Swansea in order to supply them with the players they needed to survive another year in the division.

To no surprise the star man has been one of those Swansea loanees. Alex Samuel secured a loan move to his first English club after an impressive loan spell with Scottish Championship side Greenock Morton last season and has since gone on to score ten league goals and very much been a key reason to the success County have enjoyed as of late.

His partner upfront has also been in fantastic form, Ryan Bird who had previously had poor spells at Portsmouth, Cambridge and Yeovil turned to the Welsh side for perhaps a last chance at this level of football and has since gone on to enjoy a strong start. Scoring eight league goals in 18 appearances, he has linked up well with the previously mentioned Samuel and been the reason for taking points off top sides such as Colchester United this season.

Little much can be said for County, a modest club who's aim to stay up looks likely and it's all that can be said for now, who knows where the club may go from here but I certainly do think they have what it takes in order to cap off the top half of the table, especially after the loan signing of Jaanai Gordan from West Ham United on loan until the end of the season to give another goalscoring option.

Crawley Town


Finally the top half of the table is capped off by Crawley Town who are entering their second league season in League Two since relegation in their third season in the division above, League One. Dermot Drummy was appointed at the end of last season and saw off the club as they finished 20th in League Two, steering themselves away from the relegation zone in the end after looking like a back-to-back relegation was on the cards. This time out, we predicted Crawley to do the same and finish just a couple places above.

Numerous summer signings were made as Joe Boyd, Curtis Obeng and Alex O'Hanlan all joined on a free and a quartet of loans followed with Adam Phillips, Matty Foulds, Admiral Muskwe and Aaron Lewis all joining. The best signing out of the lot would have to be Adam Phillips who has averaged an impressive 7.08 so far this season and sees himself with one of the best tackle won per game averages.

The defensive duo of Josh Yorwerth and Mark Connolly have also impressive for The Red Devils as they have been led the team from the back in order to sustain a number of results this season. This has led to the latter man taking over as captain for the season after a managerial decision was made by Drummy in late October. With that said, Crawley have had some very patchy form over the course of the season so I do expect it to eventually catch up to them and see them drop to just short of the top half of the table.
Excellent set of reviews man
MJK- Very time consuming as I mentioned to you, but very much worth doing in my book.
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT
2 yearsEdited
We have now reached the bottom half of our review of the League Two table so far and it goes as following.

Cheltenham Town


Town returned to League Two at the first attempt after winning the National League last campaign. The man behind the promotion, Gary Johnson talked about how he had great plans for the club upon return and so far, it's been a successful season for his side. Despite a poor January in which saw losses to Colchester, Luton, Accrington and Plymouth – who are all within the fight for the playoff places and seeing there's taken away as they fell completely out the top half of the table despite a 1-0 win to Crewe, they are still on course for a good season.

After joining from Colchester last season on a free following a successful loan spell at then fellow National League side Woking, Dan Holman joined Town scoring 16 goals in 18 games. So far he has managed a total of 13 as his rise continues with the club and we expect more goals to follow with the 26 year old as he continues a strong partnership with Kyle Wooton.

Wooton himself has had an impressive season so far. On loan from League One side Scunthorpe United, he has bagged 12 assists alongside a total of seven league goals which has continued his good run of form over the years as the now 20 year old continues to establish himself as a player, following a loan move to Lincoln City last season came after making 20 starts for Scunthorpe the year previous.

Cheltenham have an interesting month ahead as they first welcome league leaders Mansfield Town followed by trips to league strugglers Doncaster Rovers and Exeter City, capping off the month at home to mid-table side Cambridge United and finally Barnet. Personally I believe Cheltenham could be dark-horses for the top half as they have a strong attacking line, while the defence has also impressed this season.

Notts County

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The oldest professional footballing side in England saw a disappointing re-debuting season within League Two following relegation from League One. Now managed by Kevin Nolan after he left his role as Leyton Orient player/manager last season, he has attempted to turn the ship round at the historic club but has had no such success as the side sit in mid-table after 15 wins, but 14 losses in charge.

The defensive improvement have been evident at Meadow Lane this season with Josh Clackstone, Richard Duffy, Marc Bola and Carl Dickenson shipping just 29 goals in the division, bettered only by Mansfield, Accrington and Wycombe. However the end product has been an issue with just 34 goals scored, one of the lowest amounts of goals scored in the league.

Adam Campbell has scored nine league goals, followed by Tahvon Campbell with seven, Jonathan Forte with six and Jordan Richards with five. Beside this list of players, there has been very little goals shared between the other squad members and the issue has been spotted by Nolan as he brought in winger Ndukwu from Leicester in an attempt to resolve the goal-drought many seem to be enjoying.

County will play the bottom two sides in the month of February, alongside trips to Plymouth and Accrington so there will be plenty of opportunity to test out the squad going into the final few months. Nolan's job is definitely not safe and he will be determined to keep a hold of it, in his first full season as a manager. I think that the front line issues are going to continue at Meadow Lane and the league position will drop as a result.

Crewe Alexandra

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The side renounded for their youth prospects had no plan B last season and finished rock bottom of League One as they returned to League Two for the first time since their promotion in 2012. Now under the management of David Artell, the side were always going to find it tough to return at the first time of asking due to the lack of backing they have received over the past few years, which has saw their league position worsen year by year.

Alexandra's squad is more mixed than ever, with much more experience in the squad. The likes of Danny Hollands and Chris Dagnell have joined up with the young stars of the Crewe academy such as Callum Ainley, Charlie Kirk and George Cooper. However it has come to no effect as Alexandra look like a side destined for mid-table obscurity.

One thing Alexandra fans have had is a born goalscorer in the squad on loan. After a few unsuccessful spells at Fleetwood last season and a couple years ago at Barnsley, Alex Kiwomya joined up on loan until the end of the season. He has gone on to score 18 goals in all competitions and linked well with ex Oxford winger Jordan Bowery. Yet I still believe that with the goals they aren't good enough to push on and will remain where they are at the end of the season.

Blackpool

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It's been a horrific few seasons for Blackpool and the fans over the last few years. Since their relegation in 2011, they have continued to fall further down the table until they were relegated from the Championship in 2014 following just four wins and a total of 24 points. A second relegation followed after neighbours Fleetwood won on the last day to send Blackpool down in 22nd in League One. Since, more fans have boycotted the side over the chairman Karl Oyston and funded the Supporters Club rather than their own and gone to watch another local side, AFC Fylde of the National North instead.

Now managed by Mark Robins after the sacking of Gary Bowyer, who managed just a 30% win record at the time at the club (joining in the summer,) the club don’t seem to be turning their fortunes around as we predicted. One positive for Bowyer was the signing of Nathan Delfounso who returned to the side following spells on loan in 2012 and 2014, he has since gone on to score ten goals in 21 games for the club. But, the financial issues seem to be overtaking the club at this point and Oyston still seems unwilling to leave as The Seasiders sit in 16th.

Robins debut month saw him win three of his first five games as manager to see a slight turnaround, yet a very difficult month follows with games to the likes of Colchester, Carlisle, Plymouth and Portsmouth. With that said, the turnaround Robins has made within January could be a sign of better things to come yet I think the performances will fall over the course of February and go from there as Blackpool will join Crewe in mid-table.
Cheltenham have a lovely badge
Blackpool have certainly plummeted! :O
MJK- One of my least favourite in the league, very simple and boring :P

Justice- They are doing better in real life, good to see for them but in this save I'm worried for 'Pool, can see them going down next season with the way the things are going.
The review continues as we drop further and further down the league, now looking at the sides balancing just around the relegation zone.

Doncaster Rovers

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Rovers were relegated in 21st in League One last season, just two years after their relegation from the Championship. Darren Ferguson was the man who came in to take the reigns at The Keepmoat ahead of a season of optimism as they sought for an immediate return, however a mix of serious injury troubles and a lack of organisation almost within the ranks saw Ferguson relegated in November and despite the appointment of Gary Holt, no improvement is to come as of yet.

Over the course of the season the financial state at Doncaster has worsened as debt is slowly taking over at the club. News of a takeover is still being whispered about, but as of yet no formal offer has been made to the club as we understand. With players like club legend James Coppinger taking up a hefty £4,000 a week, it'll be interesting to see if the veteran sticks around or takes a high pay decrease now aged 36.

Goals have been a heavy problem and it's clear to see by just relaying some of the statistics to you readers, John Marquis is the leading scorer with eight league goals however the next highest scorer has just three goals this season (Harry Middleton) and this has totalled up to just 36 goals thus far in the division. Alongside this is the hefty 40 goals shipped, which is one of the highest amounts in the league only worsened by clubs like Leyton Orient, Barnet and Exeter who sit below them in the table.

With that said, I personally think that Doncaster are safe and will only need a couple of results to ensure they can distant themselves from the bottom two. It's lucky for them I would say, that the bottom two have struggled so much as in past few years it has been a close competition at the bottom but with them 18 points clear, it looks unlikely they will be preparing for life in the National League.

Grimsby Town

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After six years in the National League following relegation from this division in 2010, the Mariners finally regained their football league status after beating Forest Green Rovers in the playoff final, which was their fourth playoff season following defeats in their previous three seasons. Town lost their key strikers as Omar Bogle left to Wigan Athletic and Padraig Amond to Hartlepool in the summer which saw the arrival of Kwensi Asante from Solihull Moors and Reece Grego-Cox on loan.

Paul Hurst also left in the summer, the man who won promotion last season and was replaced by Marcus Bignot, who has built on Hurst's side and ensured Town look set for another season within League Two at least. It was always going to be a difficult task for the club to set the league alight at the first time of asking after such major changes but the new team built have bonded well and with a couple more additions next season, who knows what the future holds for Grimsby.

They have been very relient on the goals of the two strikers mentioned this season – Asante brought his tally for the season to ten at the end of the month whereas his partner Grego-Cox has seven. However beside the two, they have struggled for goals in the other areas of the pitch as they are the second lowest scorers in the league with just 26 goals, slightly better than Morecambe who have a lowly 23.

So as mentioned the target of survival for Town has very much been met for certain, the bottom two look set for relegation – even so they are quite a distance clear from the rest of the 'relegation fodder' and Bignot's side may be looking to push on knowing the pressure is off of their shoulders it seems for the remainder of the season.

Leyton Orient


Just 30 months ago Orient looked set for the Championship but since the calamitous ownership of the club by the Italian waste-management magnate Francesco Becchetti, whose two-and-a-half-year reign has featured one expensively funded relegation, an unsuccessful reality TV show, a failed extradition to Albania as part of a fraud and money?laundering investigation and a six match ban for kicking assistant Tony Hessenthaler… well it's summed up there isn't it.

But in some better news of the club, Orient was taken over by the Dutchman Mark Van Boekal, who brought in Dennis Demmers following the sacking of Danny Webb who managed a pitiful 17% win percentage after five wins in 28. Since there has been a good run of form sustained after wins to fellow strugglers Exeter, Barnet and Morecambe and a point to league leaders Mansfield.

Something to behold for Orient fans has been the performances of Ulrich N'Nomo who joined from his native France after signing from La Chateauroux following relegation from Ligue 2. He's gone on to score 15 goals so far and these have led Orient to plenty of victories in past games, much to the delight of Demmers.

Now the off-the-field issues have been resolved at Orient, I believe they will be able to push on from here but more so next season then now as Demmers can build his own team over the summer. They are safe from relegation in my eyes in this position, as mentioned for the two previous sides so they can begin to prepare for a brighter future again – some very good news for all Orient fans.
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT
2 yearsEdited
We review the sides who sit directly above the relegation zone, just before we drop into the two sides who sit in those dreaded places at the foot of the table.

Morecambe

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A 21st placed finished meant that another year was secured at The Globe Arena for the 2016/17 season, however the financial issues at the club rolled on. Over the summer it was known that Morecambe owner Diego Lemos was actively looking to sell the club, however that has been failed as the club currently find themselves in a transfer embargo following a breach of the transfer regulations. The punishment has not been furthered for now, although that has yet to be set in stone.

Jim Bentley is now into his fifth year at the club, he'll celebrate his sixth year anniversary in mid-March but the uncertainty has 'casted a shadow over the club has a whole,' to quote the man himself. The off the field issues have certainly put doubt in the mind of the players as many have gone unpaid, alongside staff at the club such as cleaners and kitmen and legal action could be followed through.

On the pitch it has been a long struggle but some vital points against Crewe, Notts County and Accrington will be huge in the push for safety against all the odds considering the state of the club. 12 points clear of Exeter, it looks like safety is not too distant for the Shrimps despite being the lowest goalscorers in the division with just 23, that will set a new record if the average goals per game sticks.

The future is bleak for all at Morecambe, the owners job has been made harder with the embargo the club are placed in and players and fans have voiced their discontent over the direction the club are going in. The months to come will be something to keep an eye on, could we be saying goodbye to Morecambe football club?

Hartlepool United

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Hartlepool were huge favourites for the drop this season following two seasons where 'the great escape' saved their Football League status. The signing of Padraig Amond from Grimsby was a huge accolade for the new Hartlepool boss Dave Jones, previously of Sheffield Wednesday and that man has certainly been a huge part to the reason why United appear safe, 11 points clear of the relegation zone this season.

The Irishman has scored eight league goals for 'Pool and this has been accompied by the five scored by central-midfielder Brad Walker, who has enjoyed a good season at the club behind the ex Morecambe striker with an average rating of over 7 (collected by ProZone.)

The one issue has been the amount of draws that have been conceded. A total of 11 has seen many dropped points, both home and away due to a tendancy to concede a cheap goal at the end of the game. The club have seen 17 goals conceded in the final ten minutes this season and something that has been openly discussed by Jones himself in press conferences.

You have to imagine Hartlepool are safe at this point in time due to the amount of points they have over their relegation rivals, but with little money being put into the club it's strange to see the club having no direction, something ranted about by famous celebrity fan Jeff Stelling on Sky Sports' coverage of Gillette Soccer Saturday. Who knows where they could be going, 'it's a funny old club.'

Barnet


Following promotion to League Two last year, Barnet aimed to achieve safety and did so with the help of goalscorer John Akinde who lead them to a 15th place finish last season. Once again that man has stepped up, scoring ten goals this season alongside new signing Jake Pickard, although this time the clubs safety isn't guaranteed as they find themselves just five points clear in 22nd.

The main issue has been having the second worst defensive record in the division, shipping an incredible 52 goals in 28 games due to results like the 4-0 battering from Hartlepool who sit directly above the London-based club recently which saw manager Kevin Nugent lose his job to ex Chesterfield boss Dean Saunders.

The new boss, who joined just a day before the end of the window managed to bring in Tom Rosenthal, Stefan Broccoli and Zenon Stylianides all on loan until the end of the season on deadline day which bolstered a rather narrow first team squad. The Bees will begin a tricky February at The Hive by facing Mansfield, followed by a trip to Colchester and fellow strugglers Morecambe until they go back at home to face Portsmouth and Cambridge before ending the month away at Blackpool.

Barnet definitely aren't safe and could be the only side left in danger with the two favourites for the drop, Exeter City and Yeovil Town. Saunders bought well once he came in, however it will be an uphill battle for him with the current situation of injuries within the ranks. Personally, I believe Barnet may be in trouble if they don't get a few points from this months games.
We conclude our review of the League Two season thus far with the bottom two teams in the division.

Exeter City

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The Devon-based side came into the 2016/17 season looking to build on the mid-table finishes achieved in the previous two seasons under the management of Paul Tisdale who celebrated his tenth year with the club in May. However, after a bad start to St James Park, the role ended just six months later when City sat in the relegation zone, destined for relegation with the way the results were going. Since, Paul Dickov has taken over the reigns but has suffered a terrible run as manager with seven losses in nine games, yet to record a win.

The obvious issue has been the defense, one glance at the table and you would see that Exeter have the record for the most goals conceded within the division, ten more than Barnet who sit directly above them with 62. Thus the backline that usually consists of Pierce Sweeney, Luke Croll, Jordan Moore-Taylor and Jordan Iacovitti have been heavily criticized and even branded 'lazy, pathetic excuses for footballers' by critic Garth Crooks.

The summer signings have worked well, Liam McAlinden and Reuben Reid signed from Wolves and rivals Plymouth Argyle have scored a tally of 20 between themselves but hasn't been enough to cancel out the amount of goals conceded at the other end. Rotation between the sticks has been common also for The Grecians this season as ex Peterborough keeper Bobby Olejnik and academy graduate Christy Pym have both featured this season – although the more experienced Olejnik has featured slightly more than the Englishman Pym.

Personally Exeter haven't had a good start under Dickov and this will continue in my book, although the squad is far stronger than that of Barnet's, the overall chemistry and management hasn't been good enough over the campaign and ultimately will see the side playing in the Conference again next season, which would mark their first time in the division since promotion back in 2008.

Yeovil Town

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The Somerset outfit struggled to a 19th place finish after relegation to the division last season, avoiding relegation narrowly after a last ditch run to lift them safely above it. This was down to the management of Darren Way who's appointment in late December made a world of difference, however this season has been a different story for Way. Sacked in October, due to just winning two games at this point, he was replaced by Nigel Worthington.

Worthington has failed to turn around the club's form as the mass amount of relegations seems to be continued. The club suffered back-to-back relegations prior to last season's finish and look set for a relegation back to the National League in which they last visited in 2003, winning the competition with 95 points.

The performances of Polish goalkeeper Artur Krysiak have been a contributing factor to the form of The Glovers this season, conceding 44 goals this season and keeping just five clean sheets thus far – a career low for the former Exeter keeper. With this said, Yeovil are all but down because of the seven point difference they'd have to overturn, in which looks an impossible task for a squad that seem to be lacking confidence already.

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